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Akshaya Patra Operates Largest Mid-day Meal Program In India

The Akshaya Patra Foundation is a secular, not-for-profit organization that cooks, transports and serves 1.8 million midday meals to school children in India. Nearly every day, the Akshaya Patra Foundation serves 19,257 schools across 14 states and two union territories in India.

We believe food is the fuel the body needs to function optimally. Even if students are sitting in ivy-league classrooms, the lessons will not make sense if they have not eaten in the past 24 hours.

This is what happens to countless children in India. Children drop-out of school because they need to work to support themselves and their families. Their inability to access even one nutritional meal each day severely limits their capacity to concentrate in the classroom and receive a proper education.

To help mitigate this crisis, Akshaya Patra provides a hospitable environment and the resources necessary to help children succeed at school.

Our program has been proven to increase the net enrollment ratio (especially for girls), attendance, and performance levels of students in primary grades.

We work closely with the Department of Food Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and The National Institute of Health and Family Welfare in India to design a vegetarian menu that contains the optimal balance of lipids, micronutrients, calories and proteins that growing children need for healthy development.

The menu also caters to the preferences of the local palate and is continuously refined for taste and nutrition.

Meals are often supplemented with peanut butter paste, fortified rice and other innovative ways of improving caloric and nutrient value. Dessert is served once a week.

Children attending Akshaya Patra schools come from low-income families who typically make less than $2.00 per day and are unable to afford vegetables, grains, and milk — basically, the bare necessities a child needs to grow.

We provide unlimited food — and second and third helpings are always available. Frequently, younger siblings of students come to school at mealtime or students pack leftovers in containers to take home.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation operates 61 kitchens across 14 states and two union territories in India.

All of our kitchens operate at ISO 21 standards and 21 have been ISO certified. With frugal innovation, Akshaya Patra’s centralized kitchens cook between 10,000 to 250,000 meals within six hours prioritizing innovation, efficiency and safety. We employ 7,300 people, 30% of which are women. Cooking to consumption time is four hours or less.

We have adopted Six Sigma, Kaizen, blockchain, IoT technologies and follow stringent quality control measures and procurement practices based on standards adapted from the Food Safety Standards Act 2006 (FSSA).

In locations where difficult geographical terrain does not support the centralized kitchen model, we have successfully created a decentralized model where women from the local area cook up to 5,000 meals daily.

This model provides rural women with a sustainable source of income, thus helping them break the cycle of poverty. A culture of innovation and improvement has ensured that Akshaya Patra can effectively scale production to reach more children.

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